Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists Debug Superbug, Clostridium Difficile

Date:
March 2, 2009
Source:
Monash University
Summary:
Scientists have uncovered the workings of Clostridium difficile, a superbug that kills elderly hospital patients worldwide -- a discovery that has the potential to save lives and health-care systems billions of dollars each year.

Monash University researchers have led an international team of scientists to a significant breakthrough in the fight against a potentially deadly superbug.
Credit: Image courtesy of Monash University

An international team of scientists, led by Monash University researchers, has uncovered the workings of a superbug that kills elderly hospital patients worldwide -- a discovery that has the potential to save lives and health care systems billions of dollars each year.

Related Articles


The research, published March 2 in the journal Nature, unravels ways to genetically modify the bacterium Clostridium difficile and solves the mystery surrounding its toxicity.

Professor Julian Rood from the Department of Microbiology and lead author, microbiologist Dr Dena Lyras, made a major scientific breakthrough which allowed mutants of the superbug to be made. They then identified which of two suspected toxic proteins was essential for the bacterium to cause severe disease.

"Contrary to previously accepted scientific belief, our results show that toxin B, which was considered the less important toxin is actually the toxin that causes disease," Professor Rood said.

"This discovery will lead to new methods for the control and prevention of this disease".

Professor Rood and Dr Lyras have been working toward this result for more than a decade. Dr Lyras said strains of Clostridium difficile are found in almost every hospital in Australia.

"It is the major cause of diarrhoea in hospital patients undergoing antibiotic therapy. The antibiotics destroy the 'good' bacteria in the gut, allowing a 'bad' bacterium to grow in the colon, where it causes a chronic bowel infection that is very difficult to treat," Dr Lyras said.

"The disease produces two types of toxins, known as A and B. Worldwide research has tended to focus on these purified toxins in isolation from the bug. This only resulted in part of the story being told. We took a big picture approach and through genetic modification of the bug, together with infection studies with our US collaborators, we were able to see the whole picture," Dr Lyras said.

Statistics show that in the US, more people die from Clostridium difficile infections than all other intestinal infections combined, with most deaths involving patients aged 65 years or over. The disease is believed to have contributed to more than 8,000 deaths in the UK in 2007. A less aggressive form of the bacteria is present in Australia but statistics in 1995-dollars show the cost of managing the disease to be around $1.25 million dollars per hospital, per year.

Their research lays the foundation to find better ways to treat the superbug.

"We are now beginning to understand the workings of the superbug, which allows us to work on treatments for it. We are confident our research will pave the way for future drugs to try to wipe out this disease. I can't put a time frame on how quickly drugs could be developed, but we're certainly on that road to discovery," Dr Lyras said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Monash University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Monash University. "Scientists Debug Superbug, Clostridium Difficile." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115753.htm>.
Monash University. (2009, March 2). Scientists Debug Superbug, Clostridium Difficile. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115753.htm
Monash University. "Scientists Debug Superbug, Clostridium Difficile." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302115753.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins